24/08/2012

RICHARD III - SOME TOUCH OF PITY AND THE SEARCH FOR HIS RESTING PLACE IN LEICESTER


1. Rhoda Edwards, Some Touch of Pity. Book Review
“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.”
(William Shakespeare, Richard III)
Another well written historical fiction novel about Richard III. Although this book is out of print  I managed to get  a used copy through Amazon.com and at a very special price. It is not my first Richard III novel since I started my quest for the real King. It is my fifth novel since, a couple of years ago,  I  joined the many loyal Ricardians who want to wipe off the stained reputation the Tudors stuck on Richard III after his defeat.
In 1976 Rhoda Edwards (author of another Ricardian novel, Fortune's Wheel)  won the Yorkshire Post’s Best First Work Award for this novel, Some Touch of Pity (The Broken Sword in the US edition) which was  her first work of historical fiction about King Richard III.
The peculiarity of Some Touch of Pity is that it  is  presented as a series of first person narrations of the key events in the last two years in the life of Richard III (March 1483 – August 1485)  We follow the compelling accounts of Lady Anne before and after becoming the Queen of England; King Richard himself; the King’s physician, Dr William Hobbes ; Sir Francis  Lovell, Richard’s best friend;   Robert Bolman a clerk in the Privy Seal Office; Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward IV (King Richard’s niece and future wife to  Henry Tudor); George Stanley, Lord Strange; and finally a Squire of Sir William Stanley.

The story opens with Richard, duke of Gloucester, who returns home a hero, victorious over the invading Scots. An adoring family awaits him, but their happiness is shattered by the death of the king, Richard’s brother, Edward IV. With only a child as heir to the throne, Richard becomes Protector of England and faces the hardest years of his life.
His spellbinding, haunting story never stops moving. Richard III, far from being the blood-thirsty tyrant of the Shakesperian legend, is a man who can be a very loyal friend and a devoted husband as well as a hard enemy. What hurts more is the fact that he is life was signed by sorrow, he was greatly hated and often betrayed in life. He went through great losses and hard fights and he survived, always facing hardships bravely and with dignity. However,  when he found himself alone in the final battle against Henry Tudor at Bosworth,  he was  so wretched and worn that he just desired to die. A sad tragic hero whose destiny was marked by the inevitable decision of accepting the crown of England.
As for the mystery of the young princes in the tower, in Rhoda Edwards ‘s version there is no clear accusation nor a strenuous defence.  
Reading Some Touch of Pity, the reader has a privileged perspective on facts and feelings and the different accounts sound like real memoirs: they convey thoughts and feelings of the protagonists with sensitivity and intimacy.
The succession of quick reports is touching, compelling and,  though nothing really surprises the readers who know  the well-known series of tragic events,  they  can’t avoid grieving for the unfortunate destiny of such an extraordinary man and king.  

2. Historic Search for King Richard III begins today in Leicester

Leicester - The dig site
From fiction to history. In 1485 King Richard III was defeated at the battle of Bosworth. His body, stripped and despoiled, was brought to Leicester where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as the Greyfriars. Over time the exact whereabouts of the Greyfriars became lost.
Led by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), experts will be seeking to locate the Greyfriars site and discover whether the remains of Richard III may still be found.
The project's small but dedicated team has undertaken map regression analysis to identify the likely site of the church where Richard was buried - currently in use as a car park for council offices (see picture above on the right) . Ground Penetrating Radar is being employed to help find the best places to cut into the ground.

Philippa Langley interviewed on BBC Breakfast 24 August
Philippa Langley, screenwriter and member of the Richard III Society, one of the guiding lights behind the project said:  
"This search for Richard's grave is only one aspect of the on-going research effort to discover the real Richard III. 
After his defeat his reputation suffered enormous disparagement at the hands of his opponents and successors, the Tudors. The challenge lies in uncovering the truth behind the myths. 
Richard III is a charismatic figure who attracts tremendous interest. Partly because he has been so much maligned in past centuries, and partly because he occupies a pivotal place in English history.
The continuing interest in Richard means that many fables have grown up around his grave. Although local people like Alderman Herrick in 1612 knew precisely where he was buried – and Herrick was able to show visitors a handsome stone pillar marking the king's grave in his garden - nevertheless at the same time unlikely stories were spread of Richard's bones being dug up and thrown into the river Soar. Other fables, equally discredited, claimed that his coffin was used as a horse-trough.
This archaeological work offers a golden opportunity to learn more about medieval Leicester as well as about Richard III's last resting place – and, if he is found, to re-inter his remains with proper solemnity in Leicester Cathedral. A filmed record will be made of the entire historic project.”


(above) Video interview with Richard Buckley, Co-Director of the Archaeology Service at the University of Leicester.



This post is part of the KRA week 2012 – Check out the other blogs taking part in the event on KRA site

9 comments:

phylly3 said...

Another RIII book I'd love to read - great review! And thanks for the news about the dig for his body.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the suggestion, MG. What a coincidence! After a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable first encounter with Trollope, I'm just starting "Fortune's Wheel", my way to celebrate the KRA week :)

Hey! Looks like you're wearing a brand new avatar: very nice, congrats to Antonio!

xx K/V

Maria Grazia said...

@Phylly3 @K/V
You're both very welcome with your comments. Thanks a lot!
And by the way, K/V, since "Some Touch of Pity" is in fact the sequel of "Fortune's Wheel", I'm ready to lend it to you, if you wish.

Anonymous said...

This seems a most intriguing book! One most timely for this RIII/RA week. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, MG.

fitzg

Maria Grazia said...

Pleasure, Fitzg!

Gratiana Lovelace said...

Thanks for sharing these RIII resources with us!

Maria Grazia said...

It's a pleasure, Gratiana. Thanks to you for reading.


Lisl said...

Oh, MG I am sooooo grateful to you for posting this AND that comment you made about this book being the sequel to another! (I hadn't known that.) After I read the post (but before I came to comments) I ordered _The Broken Sword_ from Amazon. Oddly (I just looked) the sequel is much more expensive than the one discussed here. Nevertheless it has set me on fire and I will keep looking or just break down and buy it!!!

Interestingly, a FB friend in Ireland has been telling me since months to read this book.

This is really superb that I have come across this page, as I experienced (like so many others) such devastation from recent Richard studies and readings and since some months have been picking up books and putting them back down--my heart simply couldn't bear it. But I think now is the right time.

Thanks again so much for the inspiration and resource info. :-)

~~Lisl

Maria Grazia said...

You're welcome Lisl. I hope you'll like "Fortune's Wheel" and "The Broken Sword" (the American version of my "Some Touch of Pity").
Thanks for commenting!